Monday, May 9, 2005

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Can we talk? I mean really talk?

There are a series of questions on foreign policy that I’d like to pose to conservatives while I'm here. I am hoping at least some of the many very thoughtful commentators Dan has attracted rise to the bait not with platitudes or pablum, but with honest insights that help reveal the thinking behind the policies and arguments. In short, if your answer sounds like anything Scott McClellan might say, no need to repeat it here.

Like Dan, I think that progressives and conservatives need to learn to understand each other better on foreign policy subjects. We have to move beyond witty soundbytes, gotcha repartee and reductio ad absurdum. Progressives harbor a host of notions about conservative viewpoints that are probably false or at least exaggerated, and that need to be challenged. I plan to post some questions on Democracy Arsenal this week that progressives ought to take a stab at too. If you have questions you’d like to have progressives answer, send ‘em over and I’ll take a look.

1. Does the rise in anti-Americanism concern you? If so, do you link it to the Bush Administration’s policies? Even if you don’t think it’s a major issue that should be guiding policy choices, do you think it matters at the margins and can make it tougher to build support for U.S. goals?

2. Do you really think we can make the UN further U.S. interests by criticizing and beating down the organization? Do you believe that John Bolton’s style will enable him to actually accomplish things, or is it more a matter of his standing in the way of the UN doing wrong?

3. Do you believe that in order to effectively promote goals like democratization and human rights around the world, the U.S. must itself be seen as an exemplar of these values? Do you believe that our status as a standard-bearer of justice and liberty is so well-entrenched that revelations like the abuses at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo won’t negatively affect it?

4. What do you really think of the failure to find WMD in Iraq? Do you believe that the Administration was genuinely as surprised as the American people were? Does this make you question intelligence assessments on other matters like North Korea and Iran; why or why not?

5. Do you believe that an international criminal court would be likely to indict U.S. servicemembers for war crimes, notwithstanding the provision that when countries are capable of investigating and prosecuting crimes in their own court systems, an international court will not have jurisdiction? Is this a real fear, or a stand-in for a broader concern over the impact of an international criminal justice system?

6. Do you believe that development aid is important in its own right, or do you see it more as something the U.S is compelled to do for image reasons, much of which winds up being wasteful? How important is the Millennium Challenge Account, in your view?

7. How important is intelligence reform? Is this a real priority, or more a political exigency driven by the 9/11 and Silberman-Robb reports? As the profile of those reports fades, is intelligence reform likely to recede as an issue?

8. How worried are you about China? What about in the long-term?

9. How worried are you about the sagging dollar and yawning balance of payments deficit?

10. What to you is most problematic about the Bush Administration’s foreign policy? If there’s one thing you don’t like, what is it?

In case you’re interested, my views on most of these questions can be found over at Democracy Arsenal.

posted by on 05.09.05 at 10:22 PM


It's going to be a long week, isn't it, Holsinger?

Suzanne? What nonsense. (Although I will credit you with placing AG 3d, instead of the much to obvious 1st.) If you can't really see that the framing of your "out-reach" questions *is* the very rift that you're (which is it? attempting or pretending)to fix, then there is nothing to be gained here.

See you guys in a week. In the meantime, you can read about what a terrible blight AG was on the service, since we're all such immoral monsters... 2004/May-08-Sat-2004/news/23836732.html

posted by: Tommy G on 05.09.05 at 10:22 PM [permalink]

The link for "rise in anti-Americanism" doesn't work - the page itself still loads, but the link is formatted incorrectly.

posted by: Bob McGrew on 05.09.05 at 10:22 PM [permalink]

I'll take a stab at these questions:

1. Yes, it concerns me, but not that much. The US has always been unpopular, even when it's made clearly the right decisions. I remember when my Pakistani girlfriend told me that everyone in her class cheered for the US to lose in the Gulf War, because the US was picking on Saddam Hussein. What matters most is how the US ends up looking in the long run. A stable, democratic Iraq is the best answer to that.

2. No, not really. I'm not too excited about John Bolton's nomination.

3. Yes, of course we must. The abuses at Abu Ghraib should have been detected and stopped, and Guantanamo should have been reformed. I was OK for the first year, when I thought it was temporary, but the administration should have thought of a permanent solution before this. The administration is culpable for both and needs to do more.

4. I do think the administration was just as surprised as the rest of the country.

5. Yes, the ICC would probably end up indicting US servicemembers for war crimes - or, at the very least, there would be a lot of calls for them to, which would be used against the US in international venues. I believe that those sorts of safeguards would be argued away over time, as the beauracracy entrenches itself.

6. Development aid can be useful, but in the past it has almost always been a waste of money since it goes directly to the governments. However, it is something that's important for image reasons, so we are stuck with it. The Millenium Challenge accounts were at least an improvement over previous ways of disbursing development aid.

7. Not sure.

8. In the near-term, China is struggling to fit itself into the global order. In the long term, it is likely to become a democracy when its per capita GDP rises sufficiently for people to demand intangible goods like freedom over additional tangible ones. It's the medium term that's worrisome, but there's not much that needs to be done before then.

9. I'm worried, but it's unclear whether the balance of payments deficit is being driving by the supply of US debt or the demand for US debt. If it's demand driven, closing the budget deficit will just encourage companies to issue more debt to foreigners.

10. I'm most upset about the failure to plan for the aftermath of the war in Iraq, which I think led directly to the Abu Ghraib abuses.

(It's worth mentioning that I'm a conservative who voted for Badnarik last year because I couldn't stomach voting for either Bush or Kerry.)

posted by: Bob McGrew on 05.09.05 at 10:22 PM [permalink]

I am not as eloquent as others, but let me try to answer your questions.

1. No matter how diplomacy is done to further US goals, someone is going to be upset. The question is do you stand up for yourself or do you give away the farm to get what you want? Sometimes, you can find something in the middle that works - that is rare, especially today - but it is working with Russia.

2. The UN is a body in which all countries meet to lobby for their interests in whatever way works. We have turned it into some autonomous entity over time. It is not supposed to be a body which does anything "for" the US. We wondered about Adelai Stephens' style in the UN and he seemed to do alright when he was needed - he was thought to be a simpering fool with no backbone. What's the beef with Bolton? That he shows anger? Well, why not try something different? If it doesn't work out, recall the man and try someone else.

3. Guantanamo is an unusual animal and I think we will be analizing it for the next 40 years - there are a lot of opinions - no real answers.

Of course Abu Ghraib impacted the cause of promoting American values - some made sure of the impact by labelling it systemic without proof, while ignoring the fact that the very system this was supposed to be systemic in began the investigation. Would you not agree that thee are few who are able and fewer still who are willing to be that standard bearer? Whatever happened to make the world a better place? Someone has to devide what better means - might as well be us.

4. I think the failure to find WMD in Iraq was just that - a failure. We're still digging Foxbats out of the desert over there from 12 years ago.

Why wouldn't the Administration be genuinely surprised? The President doesn't have a private intelligence source - he's got the US Intelligence Community - that's where he gets his information.

The US intel community forgot something very important about intelligence - it is often based upon an analysis of incidentals and is ALWAYS perishable. Our assessment of WMD cpacity was based more upon an absence of evidence that the weapons were destroyed - compared to what we knew they had previously. Combine that with some interesting, and still unexplained, photos and intercepts and you have what we had. the question is - do you make decisions on that, when your DCI says the data is golden?

5. The international criminal court is the silliest idea man has had in a long time.

6. You're too smart for me. I don't understand the question.

7. Intelligence reform is supposed to be never ending. The problem is our intelligence community became a bloated, high-tech, monster overseen by lazy legislators. Making it bigger doesn't solve the problem - that was all political.

8. If China's economy becomes self-sustaining before the information walls break down completely for the citizenry, we'll have a lot to worry about.

9. America is the world's biggest debtor because we are the world's biggest buyer. If we stop feeding our desire for products without reducing the debt, we're in the doghouse. Is that a problem now? Some say yes - some say no. I lean towards no without really knowing.

10. I think it is refreshing to have a what you see is what you get approach to foreign policy - today. This approach is a tool in the toolbox and you can't build a house with just a hammer. Perhaps in a few years, we won't be in a position of staring people down and seeing who blinks first. If we get there, a different - more nuanced - approach would be better.

I am a little more concerned with a couple of the President's domestic policies than with how foreign policy as a whole is going.

posted by: Joel (No Pundit Intended) on 05.09.05 at 10:22 PM [permalink]

Okay, while I agree the questions seem to presume their answers, I'll go through them straight.

(1) In a word, no. I've been through the last iteration of it; that ended with the fall of Communism. The French may say they hate Americans (I remember the Brits, French, and Germans on cruise missles) but Latvia and Georgia seem to be fairly well inclined.

In other words, if we have to listen to some complaining to free fifty million people, what the hell.

(2) Yes. Do you think we can further the interests of law enforcement by criticizing and beating down the Mafia? As noted above, if you understood why you were setting up a straw man in the question, you'd be a long ways toward understanding the differences you claim to be interested in.

(3) When you grasp the difference between pointing at someone's pee pee and dismembering them alive, the answer will be obvious.

(4) I think that if the Clinton administration AND all the Allied powers AND the Russians AND the UN AND the Mossad AND various Arab countries were all fooled --- as they all said there were WMD --- then the odds are pretty good that the CIA et al were telling Bush the same things. To think that somehow Bush knew more about it and malevolently concealed it requires believeing at least eight impossible things before breakfast.

(5) All things considered, yes. Considering that the Germans were apparently thinking of indicting and arresting Rumsfield, I don't find it at all hard to imagine that a politically motivated prosecution could be started successfully.

(6) I think development aid is a wonderful idea if its applied to development. Someone should give it a try. As far as the Millenium Challenge Account, it's probably at least mildly more honest than anything that's run through the UN.

(7) Here I can make some real claim to expertise: I used to do intel work. The answer is that a reform that reduces the tendency for political appointees to tell the boss what they think the boss wants to hear would be terrific. In fact, I remember when that was the job of the Director of Central Intelligence.

Given that, though --- intelligence is hard. Having someone to blame for intel failures may make the political heat less, but doesn't actually make intel any easier to do.

(9) Somewhat. It's effectively becoming a fascist state under the guise of Communism. Fascist states eventually collapse, but it may take a long time for this one to tip over, and they can make a lot of mischief in the mean time. On the other hand, we've got some historical reason for optimism: it looks like MAD works to at least some extent, and every day the Chinese have more to lose. Kim Jong Il is a bigger worry: he doesn't have much to lose except a wardrobe of funny jumpsuit thingies.

(10) Hard to think of much. Historically speaking, it's been pretty darn successful: Iraq (contrary to uninformed opinion) has been an amazing military and civil success (read up on conditions in Germany and Japan during the first year of the Occupations) and Afghanistan even more so. Syria left Lebanon, Libya opened their nuke plants, Egypt is at least theoretically opening their presidential elections to actual competition; Georgia, Ukraine, ... the progress in four years has been quite remarkable. Has every last little thing worked? Nope. But then if never ever making a mistake or having any intel failures is the measure of success, FDR, Kennedy, ... you're going to have trouble finding an example of an administration that made no mistakes.

posted by: Charlie (Colorado) on 05.09.05 at 10:22 PM [permalink]

As long as the democrats refuse to support the military, and do not view protecting the United States as the number one priority-you do not deserve to be considered a legitamite party.

Do you agree that we are fighting a war? Would you feel comfortable with Republicans blocking the UN ambassador of "your" newly elected President-at a time of war? With no regard for the message that sends the rest of the world? The military is still overseas dispersed everywhere and democrats send smoke signals of rot from within disease to the rest of the world with no regard for the soldier out in the field. While his back is turned and you and your like have benefitted and fattened yourselves at the expense of the soldier you stab him in the back.

Take your false concern elsewhere I am not buying. The Democrat party spoke volumes to me when the Gore/Lieberman 2000 ticket chartered a Leer jet and parachuted a bunch of lawyers from Atlanta into the Valpraiso airport to challenge the votes of airmen- many who where parked on the Korean DMZ-who were voting absentee at the largest Air Force base in the free world. I am sure you don't know where that is-it's Eglin AFB, Okaloosa county Florida. Don't worry it didn't make much news-not too many reporters from local affiliates or national broadcasters.

But you all challenged the votes of airmen with no regard to what party they belonged to, or what race or creed they were.

It was a win at any cost strategy-and you didn't care the message that it sent to the military-you were willing to tell them they were disposable even at the cost of whether or not you would lose legitemacy in their eyes.

All you need to do is acknowledge and apologize but YOUR party is too arrogant for that. And do you think one of your Senators can display a knowledge of foreign policy which the Presidency has become an office of almost singly because Congress can block him so effectively domestically-and vote for the Bolton nomination? I don't think you have one senator that humble.

Don't be worried I was just a janitor at the Air Force Academy-seriously and I don't think you will want to learn anything from the "likes" of me but for anyone else here is a link that will make the less arrogant think twice...

posted by: madawaskan on 05.09.05 at 10:22 PM [permalink]


Make 9 above, 8, and add (9) not a bit worried. Like all markets, it's self correcting. Again, being an old fart (which may also explain the problem with numbering above) gives me a degree of perspective: I remember not one but two intervals in which the Trade Deficit would Completely Destroy the Economy and End Everything. As foreign stuff gets more expensive, we buy less; this is particularly true with oil and gas, as we're even now on the verge of making everything from nuclear to photovoltaics to oil shale and tar sands competitive.

The deficit is also probably artificially overstated: it tends to count manufactured goods but not intellectual property and services. The US is increasingly selling information and buying hard goods with it; that leads naturally to a false picture of a higher trade deficit.

posted by: Charlie (Colorado) on 05.09.05 at 10:22 PM [permalink]

I echo the comments above. You’ve framed the questions in a manner to belittle those that dare hold an alternate position.

1) Depends. When attributed to the direct impact of US policy, it should be examined. When bore of frustration and petty jealousy it should be mocked and ridiculed. Regardless, doing what is right supercedes what polls may say.
2) Outside of a few UN organizations (WHO, UNICEF, Security Council), the organization is rotten and like fish it starts with the head. It is utterly asinine to stick ones head in the sand and imagine that the UN is above reproach.
3) The incidences are non-fatal, but they give those seeking ammunition to question the motivations of the US. Its one of the problems with projecting oneself as the moral compass of the world, your failures and shortcomings are placed under a microscope. The $64,000 question becomes if the US deals with the issues, will anyone care?
4) A definite blow to US intelligence credibility. The administration was probably surprised but probably realized they screwed the pooch very early on.
5) The ICC is a complete joke.
6) It’s a double edged sword. The extension of a helping hand is an important goal, unfortunately the results are often bereft of much value. Subsidizing failure usually leads to more failure.
7) Its important but is already moving to the back burner as a political issue and will stay there until the next attack.
8) Short term somewhat due to the pressures associated with the transformation to a “free market”.
9) Non starter. Who owns the debt is unimportant, the correct question to ask “How worried are you about the federal deficit”
10) The inability to effectively deal with North Korea.

posted by: Johnny Upton on 05.09.05 at 10:22 PM [permalink]

1. Does the rise in anti-Americanism concern you?

Not particularly. I'm old enough to remember Reagan's reception in Europe, and pragmatic enough to understand that what drove US/European solidarity back during the cold war was not common values, but common interests- the need to present a mostly-unified front to the Soviets... and even then, there was plenty of disagreement.

If so, do you link it to the Bush Administration’s policies?

Only insofar as Europeans don't like it when Bush puts the US's interests ahead of Europe's interests. I can understand why they don't like it. What I don't understand is why Europeans expect it to be any other way. Did they really think Clinton would be President for life?

Even if you don’t think it’s a major issue that should be guiding policy choices, do you think it matters at the margins and can make it tougher to build support for U.S. goals?

No. Trying to appease those who are anti-american now is a mistake that would only prove to others that being anti-american will advance their interests. I think we should demonstrate that being anti-american has costs.

2. Do you really think we can make the UN further U.S. interests by criticizing and beating down the organization?

We've tried just about everything else. Being nice and throwing boatloads of money at the UN has only gotten us a corrupt, ineffective, unresponsive, unaccountable bureaucracy that likes to give the US the diplomatic finger to demonstrate it's independence. Why should the US reward this behavior?

Do you believe that John Bolton’s style will enable him to actually accomplish things, or is it more a matter of his standing in the way of the UN doing wrong?

If all he does is remind the UN that the US doesn't have to be nice to it, I will consider his job well done.

3. Do you believe that in order to effectively promote goals like democratization and human rights around the world, the U.S. must itself be seen as an exemplar of these values?

We have to be credible on them, yes, but better than everyone else? No. If we can remind the various NGOs and rights lobbies that 'the way they want the world to be' and 'the way the world is' are two very different things, so much the better.

Do you believe that our status as a standard-bearer of justice and liberty is so well-entrenched that revelations like the abuses at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo won’t negatively affect it?

Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo are non-issues to most Iraqis, and what Iraqis think of the US is far more relevant to if spreading democracy in the middle east is going to work than what Europeans think of us.

4. What do you really think of the failure to find WMD in Iraq?

I think heads should roll. How are our leaders supposed to make good decisions when they're given crap information?

Do you believe that the Administration was genuinely as surprised as the American people were?

Yes. A competent conspiracy to defraud would have arranged for such materials to be found. That they are playing it straight is both reasurring (with regards to the honesty of the people in charge) and dismaying (with regards to the competence of the intelligence services).

Does this make you question intelligence assessments on other matters like North Korea and Iran; why or why not?

No. The CIA isn't saying North Korea has nukes, the North Koreans are. Iran is saying that they don't want them, but the issue there isn't what Iran or the CIA is saying, but if I consider the Iranian government trustworthy. I don't.

5. Do you believe that an international criminal court would be likely to indict U.S. servicemembers for war crimes,

No, I think US officers and political officials would be the ones indicted.

notwithstanding the provision that when countries are capable of investigating and prosecuting crimes in their own court systems, an international court will not have jurisdiction?


Is this a real fear, or a stand-in for a broader concern over the impact of an international criminal justice system?

The real fear is that the ICC lacks procedural safeguards that I consider essential. If the ICC gave the accused the option of choosing a trial under US law or the rules of the UCMJ (even if conducted by non-Americans), I would we willing to tolerate it, if it was demonstrated to be effective.

The trial of Milosevic does not inspire confidence.

6. Do you believe that development aid is important in its own right,

No. IMO, private investment is better directed, better managed, and more likely to get results. Development aid is generally granted for diplomatic or political reasons, not economic ones.

or do you see it more as something the U.S is compelled to do for image reasons, much of which winds up being wasteful? How important is the Millennium Challenge Account, in your view?

The what?

7. How important is intelligence reform? Is this a real priority, or more a political exigency driven by the 9/11 and Silberman-Robb reports? As the profile of those reports fades, is intelligence reform likely to recede as an issue?

It's important, but I doubt the new 'intelligence czar' is the solution. Adding new layers of buraucracy rarely improves the performance of an organization.

8. How worried are you about China? What about in the long-term?

I'm concerned about China. Not so much worried as hoping they don't fall into the trap of belligerent nationalism that Europe fell into back in the 20th C.

9. How worried are you about the sagging dollar and yawning balance of payments deficit?

Not. If the trade defecit is a bad thing, and the US is prevented from putting tariffs on imports by our numerous trade agreements, devaluing the currency to make imports more expensive is really the only option left.

10. What to you is most problematic about the Bush Administration’s foreign policy? If there’s one thing you don’t like, what is it?

I am concerned that it's not aggressive enough. However, Bush does seem to be getting results, so perhaps he is being aggressive, just not overtly.

posted by: rosignol on 05.09.05 at 10:22 PM [permalink]

1. If US please one group, other groups will be displeased. We can try to make most people happy, but not all. Concerning the rise of anti-Americanism, it has to do with our contradicting policies long before this administration. One example, the Shiites in Iraq are still bitter about what they deem a betrayal from the US in 1991. We called them to rise up then let them be masacred by Saddam. We have to be more faithful to democrats worldwide.

2. The UN must go through serious structural reform before it can become an effective organization. For now, it can deal with Bolton.

3. It is impossible to be perfect. We can try and we have. As long as the problem is cause by an individual and not an institutionalized practice, we are safe.

4. Prior to the war, the Time interviewed Chirac. Chirac said that he believes Saddam had biological, chemical but not nuclear weapons. Therefore I think the administration was honest in its assessment. Intelligence assessment is more of an art than a science. It will never be perfect.

5. Ad hoc tribunals worked perfect for the Yugoslavia and Rwanda. Why do we need another UN bureaucracy? It takes away incentives for countries to devolope and strengthen their judicial system. It is already happening in Uganda. The Ugandan simply passed their cases to the ICC.

6. It is important, but it should teach people how to fish instead of giving fish.

7. It is extremely important. The issue is not going away because we are fighting a war. There is a military dictum that say, "intelligence drives maneuver."

8. I am very worry about China. I am worry not because it is becoming powerful but because it is becoming powerful and undemocratic.

9. I am slightly concerned but I am not alarmed.

10. I am most concerned is our defense posture. I am in support of the war, but inadequate prepareness forces us to spend too much resource in Iraq leaving us vulnerable to potential conflict elsewhere. We should have added two more divisions to our force structure in 2001 not in 2005. A little too late.

Here is my question. Do you even read our comments?

posted by: Minh-Duc on 05.09.05 at 10:22 PM [permalink]

1. No. The primary forms of anti-Americanism are irrational - the petty jealousy over our relative wealth (which is because we have more freedom than most other countries), and the appeasenik sniveling over our relative unwillingness to treat thugocracies as agents that have sufficient morality to be reasoned with.

2. The UN is useless as long as enemies of liberty are allowed to join - and indeed dominate - the organization. Any organization that gives veto power to Communist China and puts Libya on its Human Rights Commission doesn't deserve to exist.

3. Yes to the first question. The answer to the second question depends partly on the US response to the abuses. I dont' know a lot about the Guantanamo situation, how much of the problems are real and how much are fantasy. The US is punishing the Abu Ghraib culprits. But for a US example to be beneficial, the world must know about it. Many nations don't have a free press, and therefore receive an image of the US so bogus that Democratic Underground would have to struggle to match such lunacy. Press freedoms don't guarantee accuracy, though, as the Guardian and the NYT illustrate.

4.The WMD got moved or are still hidden. We know that Saddam had a chem program - ask a Kurd. Can't say about our intelligence on the Norks and Iran. That India once caught intelligence by surprise with a nuke test does give pause for concern.

5. You betcha. The ICC will be like any other governmental organization - it will go out of its way to justify its existence. So what if a provision limits its jurisdiction? The First Amendment didn't stop Mccain-Feingold - why shoudl we assume that Europeans are inherently more respectful of rule of law?

6. The long-term solution to poverty is liberty. Poverty is concentrated in nations that rank low on the Index of Economic Freedom. Foreign aid, public and private, provides a short-term fix only if the recipient government doesn't misappropriate the funds; unfortunately (*cough*OilForFood*cough*) that sort of thing (*cough*WeAreTheWorld*cough*) is all too common.

7. Never mind 9/11. If the UN could get away with Oil-For-Food for as long as it did, the intelligence community is asleep at the switch.

8. What Minh-Duc said. And the facts that China controls the Panama Canal and is cozy with proto-Communist Venezuela is not comforting.

9. I need to read some Friedman and Sowell before I attack that question.

10. Bush has no strategy to push Mexico toward economic reforms. Lack of economic freedom is root of our border problem. Mexico makes Canada look like a libertarian paradise. Its markets are less free than France's, for crying out loud. We won't have swarms of people fleeing that relic of Iberian autocracy if it has free and predictable rules of commerce.

posted by: Alan K. Henderson on 05.09.05 at 10:22 PM [permalink]

I need to read some Friedman and Sowell before I attack that question.

Milton, not Thomas. (You probably knew that.)

posted by: Alan K. Henderson on 05.09.05 at 10:22 PM [permalink]

My response to Susan tonight first, and I'll commment on the other responses tomorrow.

1) Not overseas. I am concerned that so many Democrats are rabidly partisan that they've forgotten how the war started. We were attacked at home. The only real question about the outcome of this war is how we feel about ourselves afterwards, i.e., whether we prematurely resort to nuclear genocide. If that is what it takes to be safe at home, we'll do it. And the only Americans who will feel guilty about it will be the ones whose rejection of less drastic means of achieving victory made nuclear genocide necessary. This call will be made based on domestic American politics.

As a practical matter, genocide will first be what Arabs do to each other. That will make it much easier for others to do the same. To Arabs. What is now called Saudi Arabia will make Central Africa, and Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge, pale by comparison. This whole mess was caused by an Arab civil war fueled by oil money. It will end when they no longer have the oil money.

Given these factors, anti-Americanism abroad is a trivial issue. We personally, and not merely our children, will live in interesting times.

2) No. We can restore the U.N. as a vehicle for promoting American interests by first destroying what the U.N. has become over the past twenty years. This includes a really thorough purge of the Secretariat. Bolton is a vehicle for what is called "tough love". His nomination means there is a small chance that the Bush administration really wants to preserve the U.N., as opposed to reducing its ability to impair American interests.

3) No. Foreigners who can be influenced that way already are, and the ones who can't, aren't. You assume that posturing by American Democrats and main-stream media is real. It isn't, especially not overseas where you guys and America's main-stream media aren't even background noise. The answer to your last question is yes. You clearly have no idea what Abu Ghraib was under the previous regime.

4) I predicted it in advance, based on the advice of Ion Mihai Pacepa, who did the planning for disposal & concealment of Libya's WMD before the USSR collapsed. Iraqi's WMD program of any significance was removed shortly before our invasion, in the truck convoys to Syria. And we didn't try very hard to find it in the 90 days after resistance collapsed. Our WMD search program in that period was pathetic. DOD didn't give a rip and did just enough to avoid political blame.

IMO Iraq's WMD program in the period between termination of inspections consisted of the following. Chemical weapons - preparation for breakout after economic sanctions formally terminated. Chemical weapons have little utility save for terrorizing one's own civilians unless used in really large quantities, at which point effective delivery is a major issue. Nuclear - enough pretend to keep Saddam and his sons happy. Biological - that's the scary part.

The anthrax powder used on us was manufactured by a weaponization process unknown to us. As a practical matter the U.S. government is familiar with all the anthrax weaponization processes used by our allies and by the Soviet block (their program director, Ken Abilek, defected after 1991).

So the anthrax powder used on us was developed by a secret process. Devising a new anthrax weaponization process requires an industrial scale research and development effort. Only a government can do so secretly.

5) Some idiot government will try.

6) It depends. Most foreign aid is not merely wasted, but actually impedes development. It could be important in its own right if properly implemented. There are significant special interest groups whose income depends on successfully wasting foreign aid. Overcoming those requires scarce political capital.

7) Real intelligence reform is very important, but IMO there is no (zero, zip, nada, zilch) chance of that happening until we suffer another mass fatality attack at home. The barriers to effective intelligence reform are almost as high as the barriers to effective immigration (illegal) reform. IMO intelligence reform is for the Bush administration merely a matter of political damage control. I refer you to Amy Zygart's Flawed by Design.

8) Not about Taiwan. I am concerned about what might happen when the mandate of heaven falls on the Communist Party's head. "Did I mention that China's regime is decaying?" Golden shackles restrain an attack on Taiwan. 30%+ of China's GDP is based on exports. At least half of Chinese exports go to the U.S. Chinese exports provide the hard currency needed to import the oil needed to keep its economy going.

Chinese exports to the U.S. will cease if China attacks Taiwan, if only from an American consumer boycott. The American people are real big on boycotts as a means of influencing foreigners. Ask Sam Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart imports about $18-20 billion yearly of made-in-China goods. Wal-Mart executives told China's govt. to cool it over the early 2001 P-3 incident or Wal-Mart would shift all its buying of Chinese goods to other countries. The Chinese govt. immediately shut down its P-3 progaganda campaign.

All the rest of the world combined could absorb only a fraction of the Chinese goods now going to the U.S. if the U.S. market is lost after a Chinese invasion of Taiwan, and not at all in the short run. This would eliminate about 10-15% of the Chinese economy.

But it gets worse. That would reduce Chinese hard currency earnings by about 50%. Which would drastically reduce China's ability to pay for imported oil. While China has a lot of hard currency reserves, those could at most be a short-term palliative. Much of China's oil imports would cease over a period of several years, which would tank its economy still more.

So a Chinese invasion of Taiwan would result in loss of about 20-25% of China's GDP.

Sometimes soft power is important.

9) Not at all. Our federal budget deficit concerns me, but not the balance of payments. We can't keep foreign governments from screwing up their own countries, which is what is really driving America's balance of payments deficit. But I do encourage you to lobby for the funding to go study this particular root cause. You need a vacation.

10) Lack of public diplomacy abroad and at home. It's the "public" part of public relations which the Bush administration does not understand. This is due to their being "big government" Republicans - the public (ours as well as foreign) doesn't exist for them save as objects to be manipulated. I'm afraid that the Bush administration considers the American people as the federal government's "subjects" rather than as participants and partners in the war on terror as well as everything else.

posted by: Tom Holsinger on 05.09.05 at 10:22 PM [permalink]

A qualifier to my comment on #6: private-sector charity isn't as prone to abuse as government aid is, since the former usually goes straight to already-established organizations directly involved in providing food and medical care and building basic water supply infrastructure and the like. The "We Are The World" debacle isn't unique (I vaguely recall some old scandals involving World Council of Churches charity work on behalf of Africa - sorry, no links), but it is the exception to private-sector aid and not the rule.

Tom says:

Wal-Mart executives told China's govt. to cool it over the early 2001 P-3 incident or Wal-Mart would shift all its buying of Chinese goods to other countries.

I wouldn't mind seeing a bunch of "Made in Iraq" stickers on the store shelves.

posted by: Alan K. Henderson on 05.09.05 at 10:22 PM [permalink]

1) Not really. Anti-Americanism is built into being the world's most powerful nation. While the US should not deliberately stir it up, we should rarely if ever use it as a consideration when we believe ther is a course of action that is clearly in our, or the world's, best interest. (Also, I'm not convinced that there is more anti-Americanism now than there has been at a number of points in the past)

2) Potentially. Certainly Democrats think they can bring the Bush Administration more in line with their views by harshly criticizing him and presenting an alternative vision. Having an Ambassador who presents a strong critique and a strong alternative vision, and does it aggressively and intelligently, could be just the thing to create change in the UN.

3) Yes. Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib are huge problems. America can and should do better.

4) The Administration was surprised, as virtually everyone was. This should inspire further doubt about intelligence estimates and, hopefully, promote intelligence reform.

5) Unsure.

6) Of course development aid is important, as international economic development is one of the most important challegnes facing the world in the next century. The question is how to best go about it. Too much development aid has been wasted on corrupt governments, even propping up governments that pose a direct threat to their people. The Millennium Challenge Account may help with this. Much more important than aid, however, is the expansion of free trade to include many more developing nations.

7) It's important. I would never tolerate the type of failures that the intelligence community has had in any other realm, so I don't tolerate it there.

8) Certainly we should be worried. I can't think of a serious observer of international relations who isn't worried about China.

9) It's a concern, although not as much as the lack of fiscal discipline in Washington.

10) Most of Bush's foreign policy seems to be turning out well. My biggest concern is his lack of pushing for free trade. In particular, it will be a major failure if the Doha round of talks are not completed.

posted by: I'llbeyou on 05.09.05 at 10:22 PM [permalink]

I think this would have made a great set of trackback entries but it's not helping at all in comments. You can't aggregate these answers, you can't read them all together, and you can't argue with each one of them, so they're not useful in whole or in part. You should've asked just one big question.

posted by: Noumenon on 05.09.05 at 10:22 PM [permalink]

I will try to aggregate them and respond to them tonight (can I be trusted? probably not, but I'll do my best and you can carp if you think I've misstated anything).

posted by: Suzanne N on 05.09.05 at 10:22 PM [permalink]

You had too many (questions? moral indignations?). See for well reasoned answers. Good luck Don Quioti with those windmills.

posted by: Huggy on 05.09.05 at 10:22 PM [permalink]

i don't even know what a conservative foreign policy means anymore...or for that matter a liberal one.

posted by: jk on 05.09.05 at 10:22 PM [permalink]

Based on the way you framed some of these questions, I'm surprised you didn't include: 11) When did you stop beating your wife? But I'll take you at your word that you want to have an honest dialogue and give you some replies.

1. Anti-Americanism is a natural result of the end of the Cold War and America's rise to hyper-power status. American power was tolerable to the rest of the world when it was balanced by the Soviets; now that there is no counter-balance, resentment and hatred will grow regardless of America's actions or inactions. So the Bush administration's policies aren't really the problem; American hyper-power is the problem.

2. Per point 1, in a post-Cold War environment the rest of the world is using the UN as a counterbalance to American power in the absence of a reasonable alternative (the United States of Europe or a Chinese superpower are still decades away). The UN will therefore be *unavoidably* opposed to US interests until a new superpower arises to challenge America. It would be foolish for America to pretend otherwise, or kid itself that the UN will ever act in US interests in the decades to come. The UN is now, like it or not, our enemy -- our UN representative should understand that. John Bolton does.

3. To your first question, no. To your second, Abu Ghraib and Guantamo bother Americans and Western Europeans -- to the rest of the world they are non-issues.

4. The invasion of Iraq was necessary for strategic reasons relating to the broader Middle East -- WMD's became the rallying cry primarily to give political cover to Tony Blair. I think the administration was surprised about the WMDs -- beyond that, I think Saddam Hussein was surprised. As other posters have commented, assessments on Iran and North Korea are based on the affirmative statements of those countries rather than intelligence.

5. Per points 1 and 2, the primary goal of the ICC/the international system in general is now to restrain and counterbalance the power of the United States. This is an understandable goal for the other nations of the world, but I don't see why the US should cooperate with its own diminishment.

6. No.

7. As has been stated previously, the intelligence community should be constantly reforming and updating. This will recede as an issue as the press and public get bored -- in fact, I would suggest it's receded already. It might resurface during the next election cycle.

8. I'm concerned about perceived Chinese aggressiveness, but it can be combatted by giving nukes to Japan, S. Korea and possibly Taiwan. China's current economic growth rate is unsustainable but it should eventually achieve superpower status, which will ease anti-Americanism around the world.

9. I'm not. I've seen this before.

10. I think Bush's decision to go to the UN on Iraq was a disaster. The delay gave the Baathists plenty of time to prepare the insurgency and also to move any WMD programs to Syria. Bush should have known that the UN would never support America in its efforts, per points 1 and 2 above. On the bright side, the decision did remove the rose-colored glasses most of the American public had worn when looking at the UN.

I agree with a previous poster that you should have done 10 different posts, one for each question. The dialogue would have been much better. It's not too late to give it a try.

posted by: DRB on 05.09.05 at 10:22 PM [permalink]

'think Bush's decision to go to the UN on Iraq was a disaster. The delay gave the Baathists plenty of time to prepare the insurgency and also to move any WMD programs to Syria'

The latest official report from the US says that moving of WMDs to Syria did not happen, but I've no doubt that some people will continue to repeat that till their dying day -- Saddam moved WMDs to Syria.

posted by: Josh on 05.09.05 at 10:22 PM [permalink]

1. Yes, & to some extent it certainly relates to Bush’s policies. I think other important causes are the failure of the Administration to do effective diplomacy, particularly in its first term (I think Drezner pointed out the serious failure of Colin Powell to travel enough and lobby for American policies), & the end of the Cold War. Given the later reason I think that American & Europeans will increasingly have divergent interests – which is why we will choose policies that will aggravate anti-Americanism. I support most of the policies the Administration made that did cause these problems on the merits (Iraq, ABM withdrawal, refusal on the ICC & Kyoto, support for Israel, some rhetorical choices). This will make it tougher, but most of them are worth it – most of the criticism seems to me to be a denial of the fact that we have to make hard choices. What tradeoffs with (other) U.S. interests do liberal/left politicos want to support?
2. Yes (although I am not pleased with the Bolton nod). I think the UN needs to be focused on humanitarian efforts. It cannot further most other efforts because structurally it has to be a forum for all nations’ governments (many of whom aren’t very good & most of whom are using the forum to advance narrow self interest in this realm). Insofar as it gets involved in these issues it is harmful because it pre-empts (or tries to) other actions by de-legitimizing attempts to solve the problem without the UN imprimatur (e.g. the idea that an Iraq or Kosovo war would be illegal without UNSC support)
3. Yes, there should have been more resignations and other consequences over US human rights abuses. As for Guantanamo more generally the ad hoc approach of regulating prisoner treatment outside of Geneva Conventions is a horrid idea. I don’t think that we should be granting the same protections to Al Qaeda (and I don’t think that they are legally protected under the convention), but Congress should pass a set of standards for this situation.
4. It was an honest failure. I can’t tell how serious (as an intelligence failure rather than a policy failure) because I am not sure how feasible it is to develop intelligence at that level. I think the difficulty of verifying such information made it appropriate not to give Saddam Hussein the benefit of the doubt.
5. Probably unlikely that it will ever actually happen given that it wouldn’t work and would just tick us off. More likely that it will be a continuing rallying point for anti-American protestors to use, & we will have to waste political capital on avoiding it. I don’t think the safeguard is that relevant because it will be avoided by people saying we protect our own, & by making charges that we simply don’t think are prosecutable (e.g. Bush as war criminal for Iraq, uranium depleted bullets in the Balkans, etc.). Also given the recent ICJ decision against Israel’s fence even over a lack of specific jurisdiction – I see little reason to trust in formal safeguards. And it is Israel who the court would be used against, which I think makes it a bad idea for us to support it. Furthermore, I just don’t see it doing much good. The central problem of modern war crimes (Rwanda, Darfur, etc.) seems to be that the major powers really aren’t willing to intervene (and not without good reason, I think Kevin Drum does a good job of showing the difficulty involved in Darfur over at Political Animal) – the court doesn’t change that, so the threat of prosecution is pretty hollow. It may even be counterproductive in having no mechanism to allow for realpolitik solutions in which we let the bastard go in order to stop the problem. The ICC sounds nice in theory, but we aren’t ready for it.
6. Yes, and we should probably do more of it – although it will really only be helpful at the margins; the major problems are bad government & restrictive trade/subsidy practices that prevent poor countries from leveraging their comparative advantage. The MCA is an ok start.
7. It should be a real priority – but I don’t think centralization is the answer, and the current solutions seem to be more politically driven, and will fade.
8. Yes and yes, although I think we are doing roughly the right things in response to China now.
9. Only moderately worried, I think it could cause an economic slowdown, but not a serious depression.
10. The trends of making the Presidency the sole decision maker (not having Congress set up rules to deal with enemy combatants, suspend Habeas, or even declare war on Iraq instead of giving the President the option to do so --- although I am equally ticked at Congress for having abdicated their responsibility and thereby enabled this type of behavior as they have done for several administrations now). Also the refusal to throw more bones to allies (particularly Blair).

posted by: Tom on 05.09.05 at 10:22 PM [permalink]

Economic aid deserves a whole separate article by itself. There are several cases of its working (see Uganda in the last few years), several cases of its not working. On the whole it has definitely helped in some cases (a key example would be the Green Revolution). I'm not sure that free trade is a substitute for aid.

Corruption in aid (or in private industry) in the third world is nothing new. I recollect working in India and being told of a official who was referred to as Mr 1 % (or maybe it was 5%) since that was the amount of money he demanded of any contract. The foreign aid programs (largely from the IDA) tended to be less corrupt in many cases because of auditing although a lot depended on the program manager. IMHO, a country that has corruption in foreign aid also has corruption in private industry.

On the matter of nuclear genocide --- thanks Tom, for reminding me why I didn't vote in the last election. I could not stomach the extreme anti-Americanism of some Kerry supporters or the extreme jingoism of some Bush supporters (certainly those who talk casually of nuclear genocide fall in that category).

And Suzanne, I have to agree with some of the comments here. Your questions are deliberately provocative, they are debating points, not honest questions. An honest way to rephrase 1) might be

1) Are you concerned about the growth of anti-Americanism in the world ? Do you think this is a new phenomenon or is it endemic ? Do you think this will be reduced if we build a free and democratic Iraq ? Are there concrete steps we could take to reduce it that do not involve sacrificing our foreign policy goals ? Is anti-Americanism really a matter of concern as long as it doesn't spill-over into violence ?

posted by: Solar Pons on 05.09.05 at 10:22 PM [permalink]

Josh, just to clarify, I'm not claiming that the Baathists moved any WMD programs to Syria -- merely saying that if they wanted to, the Bush administration going to the UN gave them plenty of time to do it. I don't know whether it happened or not, though it strikes me as a smart thing to do.

As for official US reports, any student of realpolitik would know that whether it happened or not, we would never acknowledge that it did unless we were prepared to take action against Syria. I am quite sure we're not ready to take that step.

posted by: DRB on 05.09.05 at 10:22 PM [permalink]

Re: "Can I Lecture?"

Some clearly rabid anti Americanism (source: London Daily Telegraph):

Mikhail Saakashvili, the Georgian president who led the Rose Revolution in 2003 that overthrew a corrupt government, praised Mr Bush as "a leader who has contributed as much to the cause of freedom as any man of our time...We welcome a freedom fighter."

"Eighteen months ago the Georgian people stood for liberty in this very place," Mr Saakashvili said. "Today America is true to its word. You stood with us during our revolution and you stand with us today. On behalf of my nation I would like to say, 'Thank you.'"

posted by: US-Brit on 05.09.05 at 10:22 PM [permalink]

1. The rise in anti-Americanism is of concern, but this is not unique to the Bush Administration. While we must consider it in our policies, we must be careful not to cease doing the right thing because certain allies would be displeased. There is a balance to be walked here, and I think the difference between conservatives and liberals is that the latter want to err much farther on the side of pleasing allies to the detriment of effective foreign policy.

2. People like John Bolton are precisely what the UN needs. American ambassadors who think that they can work with an anti-American system are deluding themselves. We must be confrontational and shake things up. I have heard only rumors and whispering campaigns against Bolton.

3. The US must indeed be an exemplar of values. We have no credibility at all if we demand the best from our friends and enemies while practicing those transgressions we preach against. Abu Ghraib was not genocide, but it certainly hurt. None of that is to say that we are somehow hypocritical if we have WMDs while denying them to others or that our allies must be paragons of virtue before we can work with them.

4. If there were no WMD in Iraq and none were shipped out of the country (still highly suspect in my mind), the invasion was still justified on the other two grounds that Bush repeated ad nauseum. Yes, I think the Administration believed the intelligence, which included both domestic and that of every other developed intelligence agency that could possibly know. It does, at least, get people to understand that intel is not a 100% certain field. Which is why Kerry should shut up about Tora Bora.

6. Development aid is important, but it should come with strings attached if it comes from the US government. We should not be allowing people to starve to death because their UN rep voted against us, but neither should we be propping up countries when their propaganda organs are vilifying us.

7. Intel reform is being completely bolloxed by the amateurs at the 9/11 Commission. The reform that needs to happen is that which Porter Goss was undertaking. Adding another layer of bureaucracy with Negroponte is going to solve nothing and will probably hurt.

8. Economically, China is a passing threat. Militarily they are the only remaining state that can threaten us on the world stage. We must act to contain them now, even if that means arming Japan.

9. The sagging dollar and balance of trade will correct itself. This "problem" is the international equivalent of liberals insisting on a minimum wage that the market won't bear.

10. The worst aspect of Bush's foreign policy is his refusal to deal harshly with nations that work directly against our security -- Mexico encouraging illegal immigration, countries refusing to extradite terror suspects, France working against us within NATO, etc. He also fails to reward allies like Poland sufficiently. I want more carrot and more stick.

posted by: Jamie on 05.09.05 at 10:22 PM [permalink]

Oops. I skipped 5.

The ICC would inevitably be petitioned to try American politicians, soldiers, and civilians. Eventually it would succeed. If Spain can try Pinochet in their courts and the Dutch are trying to bring domestic suits against Bush for his actions in Iraq, it's only a matter of time until the ICC is just a tool to go after the US.

posted by: Jamie on 05.09.05 at 10:22 PM [permalink]

US-Brit makes a good point. Anti-americanism is a mixed bag. In East Europe, its far more muted (outside of the Balkans). In Georgia and Ukraine, there is pro-American feeling. There is anti-Americanism in several other places (West Europe, parts of Asia, South America, large chunks of the ME). Success in Iraq will help to reduce anti-Americanism abroad, but it would be folly to conclude that it doesn't exist today (although how much that should concern is another matter).

posted by: Solar Pons on 05.09.05 at 10:22 PM [permalink]

's for official US reports, any student of realpolitik would know that whether it happened or not, we would never acknowledge that it did unless we were prepared to take action against Syria.'

Why ? It would give us another club to use against Syria. It would be an excellent propoganda tool too : IRaq did have WMDs, they moved them to Syria. It would restore our credibility if it was a credible claim.

As to whether this was a smart move -- what is the use of wasting WMDs by sending them abroad just when you might need them ?

posted by: Josh on 05.09.05 at 10:22 PM [permalink]

We have no "proof" that Iraq sent it's WMD to Syria, and as the final report regarding WMD in Iraq suggested, we could not go into Syria to find proof. The report left the question open.

As to why he would move WMD into Syria when he could use it during the war, well, perhaps all he moved was the manufacturing capabilities and not the WMD (and he may have had no WMD). Perhaps Hussein planned on retrieving this to Iraq after he was reinstated to power.

posted by: mCrane on 05.09.05 at 10:22 PM [permalink]

McCrane -- having access to much of the Iraqi establishment (I believe 50 plus of the big deck of cards), and most Iraqi secret service files, it strikes me that it would be extremely easy to get near definitive proof that any such transfer happened. The original claim was that the delay in getting UN sanctions gave Saddam time to hide his WMDs in Syria and set up the insurgency. The first claim has been generally refuted by CIA reports on the state of iraq's weapons program. The 2nd is also quite unlikely since most indications are that Saddam expected to survive the war and would have been most unlikely to set anything up. [ Not to mention that the insurgency seemed to grow within a few months of the US attack, which leads to an indication that it was a post-occupation action]

In any case, it took 9 months for the build of US troops to be complete. It is unrealistic to assume that the 3 or so extra months caused by the UN delay somehow gave Saddam time to hide non-existent WMDs that he hadn't hidden in the 9 months prior to that.

posted by: Josh on 05.09.05 at 10:22 PM [permalink]

First an amplificaton of my response to Susan yesterday, and then I'll comment on the other responses.

1) There is no one "anti-Americanism" theme abroad - lumping it all into one category means certain incomprehension of the subject. Furthermore the situation is not static. History is a process, not an event. Success changes things, as was demonstrated by the success of the Iraqi elections.

America has again become a revolutionary power abroad. That necessarily provokes hostility by entrenched elites there, particularly if they will be on the wrong end of the revolutions. Failure to understand or accept the implications of this means you are not doing your job. The National Security Strategy - - adds a whole new element to anti-Americanism abroad.

The status quo abroad is no longer acceptable. It is a threat to the American homeland. And that changes the importance of anti-Americanism abroad. We are not seeking allies to maintain a status quo. We are creating new allies in the process of overthrowing the status quo.

The resolve of the American people is THE critical issue here. But it too is not a static issue - terror will strike here again if we falter abroad. "Failure to defeat terrorism means further attacks at home, so lack of resolve is not an issue." I suggest you read the whole article here:\inetpub\strategypageroot\strategypolitics\docs\20021128.htm&search=Holsinger

2) I have no hope for effective reform of the U.N., as that would require a degree of bi-partisanship which is clearly not present. IMO the appointment of Bolton was a sop to the GOP's base, and perhaps a test of the Democrats' willingness to work together to save the U.N. If it was the latter, the Democrats failed miserably and the U.N. should be abolished. We can do that unilaterally given its location. But I don't think the Bush administration will do that. A later administration might. Bolton is IMO just domestic damage control.

3) You guys believe your own propaganda. That's another reason why you lost the last election.

4) You also share the newsies' ignorance of military matters. "A tank is any mobile large object with a projectile weapon. This includes camels (they spit)."

Use of the term "stocks" in reference to Iraqi WMD is a certain indication of this invincible ignorance. Newsies, Democrats and lefty academics are by definition incapable of understanding the terms, "shelf life" and "Iraqi technical means".

Iraq lost all its chemical weapons "stocks" mostly during inspections in 1991-92, and whatever the inspectors missed decayed into uselessness. Thereafter the Iraqi military decayed (or rather was murdered by Saddam, etc.) to the point where it no longer had the capability of delivering militarily significant amounts of chemical weapons even if it possessed them.

At most Iraq developed the means of restoration of chemical weapons production during the period between the end of inspections and our invasion. I doubted this over on Winds of Change because they still lacked the delivery capability. More likely they were aiming for breakout of limited production of enough to terrorize their own population.

Nuclear WMD development requires piles and piles of money which was not available prior to formal termination of sanctions.

Biological WMD development is and was much less expensive easier to hide, as are the means of production and the amounts produced. Some biological agents, notably weaponized anthrax, have very long shelf lives with minimal effort. IMO Iraq had the capability of developing the weaponized anthrax power used on us and the means to produce at least a hundred pounds of it.

I was scared to death that Al Qaeda would get some of that.

AFAIK, the total personnel of all American counter-proliferation teams operating in Iraq in the period April - June 2003 never exceeded 100, and perhaps less than 60. The largest and most effective had the NYT's Judith Miller as its embed. The Defense Department did not try very hard to find Iraq's WMD program - the armed forces just weren't interested in the subject, and the Bush administration did not ride them to make certain they did the job right.

Add to that cleanup & deception programs the Iraqis were taught by the Soviets, the presence of a lot of Russian spooks in the few months before our attack, and the obvious truck convoys going to Syria, and I feel whatever WMD programs Iraq had were disposed of before we could find them.

And there plain weren't "stocks" of WMD in Iraq in the ten years before our invasion. Those were eliminated 1991-93 and not replaced.

6) no further comment

7) Effective intelligence reform requires either bi-partisan support or at least indifference. Until then only domestic damage control is possible. Such new effective intelligence capabiity as is politically possible is being developed through the Defense Department. Democrats on the two armed services committees won't interfere - they are far less reliant on, or vulnerable to, ideologically-based individual contributions as their business-origin campaign contributions arising from oversight of half of federal discretionary spending are sufficient to scare off primary challenges. And too important for them to risk by divulging secrets and being dumped off those committees.

BTW, the Democrats' loss of both houses of Congress, as well as the White House (not to mention GOP threats against businesses), has significantly lessened their federal office campaign contributions from businesses (non-discretionary, i.e., earned, contributions). Democratic incumbents in Congress still get a fair amount, but not as much as before. This makes them more vulnerable to primary challenges funded by out of state ideologically-based contributions, as well as more dependent themselves upon such contributions.

8) Wal-Mart executives threatened to cease their purchases of Chinese goods concerning the P-3 incident because their customer surveys told them a customer backlash & boycott was a significant possibility.

9 & 10) no further comment.

My next post will address some of the responses of others.

posted by: Tom Holsinger on 05.09.05 at 10:22 PM [permalink]

1. No it does not concern me. I think it is important that we continue to try to do what is right (fight the bad guys, help people attain liberty) and I think that your questions reflect an excess of concern about status, reputation, and what other people think. It's a rather adolescent way to look at things.

2. The goal is not to "make the UN further U.S. interests." The goal is to improve the UN so that the UN will help make the world a better place instead of being a den of malfeasance and corruption. The money being spent on their graft and luxuries should be going instead to poverty reduction and health care for the needy.

3. I think it is important for the US to be honest about its intentions and efforts, and to admit it when mistakes are made. No country will ever be perfect and fault-free. I think it's great that when an Abu Ghraib happens the world sees our press attacking our gov't. I think it's great that the world sees that the most powerful country in the world does not suppress news that could harm its reputation. I think the US is an exemplar of openness. I think the US shows that you can be powerful while still being generous and merciful, as opposed to the powerful and brutal and greedy model adopted by so much of the world.

I think that revelations like Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo demonstrate that there is no perfect state and that you have to keep trying anyway, and you have to be open about mistakes.

4. I think that there were WMD in Iraq and that we gave them 14 months of warning that we were coming to look for them.

Lemme put it this way: You are the supreme dictator of California. You have 8 truckloads of contraband. I give you 14 months warning that I am coming to get it. Everyone in California knows that you will torture, rape, and kill to get your way. They are scared to death of you. You are very good friends with Nevada and Mexico and they will help you. Do you think you can hide the contraband or move it to Nevada or Mexico without me knowing? Of course you can.

On the other hand, I believe that it is certainly within the realm of possibility that the intelligence was wrong, and may be wrong about NK and Iran. I also think that if you look back at the pre-war statements by Bush, you'll notice that WMD was not the only reason for the war. The left just latched onto it after the fact as a weapon against the hated Chimpy McHitler.

5. I think that the international criminal court would be used as a tool to try to prevent the US from helping people who need help. For example, which is more likely, that the ICC would prosecute the Jangaweed in Sudan or prosecute the US if we went after the Jangaweed?

6. I think that development aid is important in its own right. I don't think it improves our image that much. People usually resent being the recipients of charity. We do it because it is right. I don't know enough about the MCA to offer an opinion.

7. Intel reform is important, an urgent priority. I don't have a lot of confidence in its success, though. Yes, I suspect it will fade into the background.

8. Hmmm. Fairly worried. I think though that if they were to do anything to cause us to stop buying from them, their economy would suffer enough that there would be internal unrest that would threaten their govt, therefore they will avoid any confrontation for the time being.

9. Not real worried. My main budget concern is Social security.

10. I hate seeing Bush cozying up to the house of Saud and to Vicente Fox. I am livid over the illegal immigration situation, and I'm not alone.

posted by: Sheila on 05.09.05 at 10:22 PM [permalink]

1) There seems to be general agreement that, using the commonly accepted definition of anti-Americanism (which I don't), it is not a matter of concern, is not based on the Bush admnistration's policies (I disagree here), should not guide policy choices, no position on it mattering at the margins, and that "can make it tougher to build support for U.S. goals" is a loaded question which does not merit a response.

2) Bolton & the U.N. Another loaded question, but this did get a universal response of "Get Real".

3) U.S. as good guy role model vs. Abu Ghraib & Guantamano. Most responses seem to disagree with Susan's blatant assumptions. One agreed with her unconditionally, and two conditionally. It should be noted that Guantamano is a total non-issue outside leftie circles.

4) Iraqi WMD. General agreement on the first two questions on that subject. Few responded to the second two on Iran & North Korea, which I quite missed. Here are my first responses to the questions, does the WMD intelligence failure on Iraq make me question similar assessments on Iran & North Korea + why or why not. No, because those focus on nuclear weapons where intelligence capabilities are far better. We were right about Iraq's nuclear capability, so that success should INCREASE, not decrease, the credibilty of intelligence assessments concerning the nuclear weapons programs of Iran and North Korea.

Susan asked another loaded question here. Her repeated use of loaded questions makes her good faith suspect.

5) International Criminal Court. General agreement that some yo-yo will try to use it against us.

6) International aid. General agreement that it is a failure as previously practiced, with the implication that it is not important if it has been such a failure. As many sarcastic responses (foreign aid would be a good idea to try, i.e., it hasn't been tried) as responses saying foreign aid is a good thing.

7) Intelligence reform. Most responses were sarcastic.

8) China. Considerable variations in responses, but there was general concern for both the near and long term.

9) Trade deficit. Little if any concern.

10) Biggest beef with the Bush administration's foreign policy. No two responses were at all similar.

Most would probably agree with advice that Susan get out more.

posted by: Tom Holsinger on 05.09.05 at 10:22 PM [permalink]

The latest official report from the US says that moving of WMDs to Syria did not happen, but I've no doubt that some people will continue to repeat that till their dying day -- Saddam moved WMDs to Syria.

I'm glad to see your complete confidence in the reports of what is, after all, a US intelligence operation.

Given the context of the question I think you're making a complete fool of yourself, but I'm glad to see that someone has that confidence.

posted by: Charlie (Colorado) on 05.09.05 at 10:22 PM [permalink]

Since, as a libertarian, I guess I qualify as a conservative ...

1 - No, the rise in anti-Americanism doesn't especially concern me. I don't tailor my actions to win the favor of petulant, self-absorbed children, and I don't expect my country to do so, either. I would prefer that we be liked, but it doesn't take priority.

2 - I don't know if we can make the UN behave by berating it, but pandering certainly didn't work. Time to put away the scooby-snacks and break out the rolled-up newspaper. How and whether Bolton will have any effect I don't know, I'm just looking forward to the show.

3 - I believe that to most effectively promote human rights, the US' behavior should be as much of an exemplar as possible. Clearly, even we aren't perfect, as AG demonstrates. However, abuses (where they actually exist) should be rooted out and stopped, not just in the name of setting a good example but because it's the right thing to do.

4 - In the dozen years of the 'rush to war,' Saddam failed to meet the UN-mandated requirement that he prove he had disarmed. The burden of proof was never on us, so not finding them doesna fash me. I would, of course, prefer to have better quality intelligence, but in this context it's irrelevant.

5 - Despite any guarantees beforehand, I'm sure the misbegotten ICC would try to go after American servicemen and women -- that's pretty much its raison d'etre. I think we should make it crystal clear that no non-US court, be it national or international, has any jurisdiction over our military personnel whatsoever.

6 - I think development aid is important in its own right, with the caveat it should be spent as effectively as possible. I'm not familiar with the Millenium Challenge Account and don't have time to research it right now, so I'll pass on that.

7 - I don't know.

8 - I'm somewhat worried about China on general Tibet/Taiwan principles, but haven't looked into the situation in any kind of depth.

9 - I'm more worried about the deficit. The dollar fluctuates and will rebound sooner or later, but being in debt is A Bad Thing.

10 - The only problem I have with this Administration's foreign policy (other than its continuing to fund the joke that is the UN) is the money being poured into propping up/papering over dysfunctional regimes like Mubarak and the PLO.

posted by: Achillea on 05.09.05 at 10:22 PM [permalink]

Is anti-Americanism a problem? Yes, and the majority of the responses here misunderestimate how much a bad feeling from abroad can actually diminish our ability to get results from our policies abroad. Nearly every government has to respond to its own version of the street, whether elected or not. And when the street is increasingly anti-American, doing the right thing can mean losing power, something few folks are willing to do. So resistance to U.S. policies, or even just subtle slowness and delay and passive non-cooperativeness, can make for some pretty damn frustrating efforts to get our interests met.

It is not a popularity contest, where the U.S. is too cool to get caught up in who is the most-loved. Its about realizing U.S. interests abroad and whether we have to spend greater or lesser efforts to get what we want. From the anti-Americans out there, we need to push harder, pressure more, cajole and browbeat andd "express concern." That makes it tougher -- and you can sit back and say thats what our diplomats are paid to do, but would you want your baseball team forced to play double-headers every day, against different teams? Being right and being right over the long term makes being hated in the short-term acceptable, but not easier.

And if we approach anti-Americanism with a "we're right, too bad" attitude and without some strategery for reducing that drain on our efforts, we are only hurting ourselves in the long run. My worry is not that we should do what the Euros and others say, its that we should listen with an effort towards changing minds, not just countering rhetoric.

posted by: Nicolson05 on 05.09.05 at 10:22 PM [permalink]

1. The rise in anti-Americanism concerns me greatly. I believe we should ascertain, however, whether that feeling (1) is justified by our misdeeds or (2) arises because other countries’ or persons’ interests simply differ from ours. I think most of the current anti-Americanism arises because our interests diverge from the interests of those who hate us. We are currently waging a war against Islamo-fascism, so peoples and nations who support that movement will despise us, and they should, until we defeat those who seek to enslave or murder large numbers of people. For other countries and their citizens, like some in western Europe, most of the rancor seems to exist because they either think our methods of dealing with the Islamo-fascist threat endanger them (my opinion is they want to appease the murderous thugs we are fighting) or are jealous of our preeminence and influence. For most of our democratic allies, I think their resentment of the U.S. is a combination of both. In either case, we should seek to convince allies to join us when our interests coincide, but we should do what is right and consistent with our interests (I think they usually intersect), to the extent we can, irrespective of what others think. We always will make compromises at the margins, and I presume we constantly will balance our interests in pursuing American goals with the effect unilateral action has on our ability to achieve long-term objectives with allies.
2. I don’t think we should “beat down” the U.N. We need, however, to reform it, and we can’t accomplish that without a willingness to point out the obvious and insuperable shortcomings that now exist. Bolton seems to me to be the right man for that job. The senior leadership of the U.N. is corrupt, and many of its units are not just feckless – they are destructive. When brutal, repressive regimes like Libya, Cuba, and Sudan can hold positions of influence within the U.N. human rights community, and when we provide 25% of the organization’s operating expenses and yet lack an independent authority to monitor where the money goes, we need someone there who will ask tough questions and demand answers. “Accomplishing” things in the current environment doesn’t seem to be helping the cause of human freedom, saving lives, or lifting the desperate out of poverty, and unless we change the atmosphere fundamentally, the U.N. will remain ineffective.
3. We should be an exemplar of human rights and democracy, but not because other countries will admire or emulate us. We should do it because it is right for our people and consistent with our history and traditions. We should prohibit and punish mistreatment of prisoners, as at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo, and we should hold responsible all those who perpetrated, tolerated, and enabled those acts (as we are, to our credit). We also should distinguish between governmental policies of torture and abuse and isolated acts of abuse like those that occurred at AG and Gitmo.
4. I believe Sadaam had WMDs (well, we know he did because of what he did at Halabja and during the Iran-Iraq war), and that he would have developed more of them whenever he could. I also believe he would have threatened to use them, and would have used them whenever he thought he could get away with it. I think the U.S. government really was surprised by the absence of WMDs. If we had known Sadaam did not have them, the administration probably would not have emphasized their purported presence as consistently as they did prior to the invasion. Further, all other intelligence agencies seem to have believed at the time he harbored the weapons; if a serious doubt had existed, those who opposed our invasion would have questioned the intelligence at the time or would have published criticism once the absence of WMDs became apparent. No one did or has. Additionally, our intelligence communities contained numerous individuals who either disagreed with Pres. Bush at the time or since have spoken out publicly and enthusiastically about the failures of the administration. I am unaware of anyone who has offered proof that the President knew or seriously suspected that Sadaam lacked WMDs. I was naïve in trusting the intelligence we heard. I really believed that the agencies comprised apolitical professionals who were virtually always right. As a result of both the obvious failures in Iraq and the subsequent whining and chest-thumping by intelligence personnel, I am chastened. I doubt what I hear about Iran and North Korea; I do not know whether we should conclude they have nukes or are about to develop them. I am much more skeptical because of our Iraq failures – my serious skepticism of government in general now includes the intelligence agencies (they formerly were immune).
5. I do not trust the International Criminal Court. Until it prosecutes the dictators who have supported international terror and murdered their own citizens for crimes against humanity, I cannot take it seriously. The prosecutions by the court will inevitably be selective, and mostly political. Once it has prosecuted Khadafi, Castro, the House of Saud, Assad, the mullahs of Iran, the despots in Sudan, and the rest of the world’s bloody tyrants, I will consider it legitimate. We have better and more effective mechanisms to identify and punish miscreants than any country or international body on earth.
6. I believe almost all development aid is wasted and does more harm than good. The U.N.’s Oil-for-Food program, while not intended for development, is indicative of how most countries use aid. The money normally enriches the leaders and their allies, entrenches existing political powers, and almost never leads to real development that improves the lives of the poor. What most poor countries need are the social structures that support a market economy: the rule of law, private property rights, and economic freedom. The world is rich in capital and wealthy individuals who will invest in countries where real development is likely; governmental aid, which has few mechanisms for monitoring it use, seems usually to aggravate deplorable economic conditions. The MCA is, I believe, an enormous trough at which the usual international bureaucrats and other pigs will feed sumptuously while millions starve.
7. Intelligence reform is very important. As I noted above, I used to think the existing agencies were unaffected by political considerations. Now I know better. I’m not sure the reforms we have adopted are the answer (we seem merely to have added another layer of “management”), but I am sure I don’t have an easy answer. The answer probably lies in electing leaders who are serious about the threat and are willing to push intelligence issues internally. I am afraid, however, that the issue will recede as the war progresses, and we will become ever more complacent as time passes without major violent terrorism on our soil.
8. I am worried about China, but my concern is tempered by long-term optimism. Economic “competition” from China does not concern me; it will be beneficial for us. Expanded markets help everyone, and if China maintains it momentum towards market reforms, its development will be a boon for the U.S. Politically, as it becomes more prosperous and economically free, its tyranny should weaken. I believe that ultimately economic freedom tends to breed political freedom, and international economic integration reduces international political tensions. So while I worry about China over the short term (the next five years or so), I am optimistic that the long-term prospects are favorable.
9. I am not overly worried about either a weakening dollar or any current-account deficit. If we focus our economic policies on domestic issues – ensuring our environment encourages and rewards private initiative, limiting governmental restrictions on economic activity, reducing the bureaucratic burden on private enterprise, and constraining taxation and government spending, the relative value of our currency and the status of international currency flows will “take care of themselves.” They are effects of economic policies, and if we establish and follow good policies, those conditions will not be a serious concern.
10. While I find the notion of exporting democracy attractive, and my idealistic side embraces the thought of helping the downtrodden worldwide, we simply do not have the resources to liberate everyone. I worry that Pres. Bush will stretch us too thin, that he will try to free other countries militarily. I am generally non-interventionist in foreign policy, and I believe we should encroach on others’ soil only when our interests mandate it. I reluctantly supported our invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq because of their ties to international terror and Iraq’s history with WMDs, but I do not support continuous police actions to spread freedom. I worry that Pres. Bush will become enamored of our perceived ability to liberate lots of other countries, and we will find ourselves enmeshed in areas where we don’t belong, wasting lives and material resources.

posted by: Fred DC on 05.09.05 at 10:22 PM [permalink]

Whatever the intentions of the original post, I have found the resulting discussion very interesting. Thanks, Ms. Nossel.

1. Rise? I don't know exactly what you refer to, and the link doesn't work for me. anti-Americanism in general doesn't bother me. Americans have, since the Iranian Hostage Crisis or maybe even before that, been too worried about anti-Americanism. It's about time we grew up and realized that we can't possibly be everyone's friend. The large, angry rally against America has been one of the few diplomatic sticks that can be used against us. "Oh, no! The people in Kreplakistan are burning us in effigy! Maybe we are wrong!" Cheap, and effective, propaganda; it's high time we ignored it. And, as other commenters have pointed out, it's about time we made countries pay for their anti-Americanism. Don't like us? Don't receive our aid and expect added costs for doing business with us.

2. I don't know. I don't see the harm in trying, though, since being nice and giving the UN money certainly doesn't work. Bolton: from those quotes that are floating around, he doesn't seem particularly diplomatic. Sure, those quotes are selected for shock value, but they also make him seem damn smart and observant. I don't know how important it is to be diplomatic in that role. I would suspect that it's not very important, especially if you represent the US. I'm ok with sending someone as observant as Bolton to the UN.

3. Yes. I don't think Abu Ghraib will have a long-term effect. Balance the abuses of Abu Ghraib against bringing liberty to Iraq; the two don't compare. There was some short-term fallout, but the facts that the investigation is being carried out lawfully, and that the actors were a few bad apples (that sounds horribly cliched) will mean that in the long term Abu Ghraib will simply become an unfortunate footnote. Guantanemo: no problem at all. Terrorists/guerillas expect Geneva Convention treatment even though they don't obey the convention themselves. There has to be a cost to them (if you don't play by the rules, you don't get the protection). If you are refering to allegations of abuse by released Gitmo detainees, there's another problem with this. One of the standard operating proceedures of al Qaeda is to proclaim abuse immediately upon release from internment. That way the detaining country starts a drawn-out investigation and slows it's detainment/internment process because of allegations of abuse. Sorry, but that trick shouldn't work. If you take advantage of the system like that, the response is to remove the safegaurd--your word is no longer valid and should be ignored unless corroborated by outside evidence.

4. This seems like a much more serious long-term problem then Abu-Ghraib, but, infuriatingly enough, it's a PR problem, not an intelligence problem. There are several good theories for why the US didn't find weapons in Iraq, the two most prominent are: they got sold/shipped to Syria, or Saddam thought he was building them, but he was being defrauded by his generals. Neither of these have been resolved in the last few years, and it's making US intelligence look like fools. What happens in a year when the US says "Syria received the WMDs from Saddam, and now they're about to use them. We have to invade Syria to take away the WMDs."? The international laughter might trigger earthquakes. Although I don't question intelligence estimates for NK or Iran, I don't think that the US will be able make a case for it; the political fallout from the "failure" in Iraq is too great.

5. I think the ICC is a terrible idea for most of the reasons given above. Here's another one as well. Imagine that the ICC existed before the US invaded Afghanistan. By the time the US was attempting to make the case for Iraq, there would have been hundreds, possibly thousands of cases pending in the ICC against US troops. All of them would have been false, sure, but Britain wouldn't have had the political will to ignore the BS and join the coallition. In addition to UN resolutions, Blair would have had to have waited until the Afghanistan war crimes were resolved before being able to commit troops. So, (this has been said in other ways already) the political capital that the ICC will chew up is going to be enormous. Also, Tom is right, the ICC would be used primarily against Israel, which has enough problems already.

6. Development aid, good. Supporting corrupt regimes with development aid, bad. If the challenge grants aren't simply window dressing and are actually enforceable, then they are better then just writing checks. I don't know much about them, though.

7. Although intelligence seems to have failed us time and again in recent history, I fear that intelligence reform is only driven by political necessity. Unfortunately, I don't know anything about the industry, so I can't say what sort of reform needs to be done, or even if it is being done.

8. Not too worried, but somewhat worried. Economically I think China will get side-tracked at some point and not quite reach superpower status--ending up somewhere in the economic pantheon near Germany or Britain. Militarily, sure, it's a worry. As long as Japan and Taiwan are sufficiently armed, a military confrontation can probably be avoided.

9. Not very. I don't know much about it, but I am not impressed by the direness of the situation. I could be ignorant, but this deficit problem seems to happen periodically. Also, I wouldn't put it past this Republican administration to sink us beyond hope of economic recovery. I don't think we've reached that point yet, but they seem to be willing to try.

10. Bush needs to stop worrying about Social Security and instead work to strengthen the current economy in preparation for the next challenge in the WOT (spend the Social Security energy on that deficit problem, for example). He needs to start laying the groundwork to take on Iran/NK/Syria if necessary (and unless we are visibily prepared to strike, it will turn out to be necessary). Related to this is Minh-Duc's concern; we seem to be stretched too thin--the army should be bigger. As Jamie said, we need to handsomely reward Poland and our other non-Blair allies for their contributions. Finally, we're giving Egypt, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia breaks in return for them democratizing themselves at their own chosen pace. (In the case of Saudi Arabia especially,) if we're wrong about this, and they simply get worse, we'll be paying for our mistake for the next decade or more.

posted by: john jay on 05.09.05 at 10:22 PM [permalink]

> infuriatingly enough, it's a PR problem, not an
> intelligence problem. There are several good
> theories for why the US didn't find weapons in
> Iraq, the two most prominent are: they got
> sold/shipped to Syria, or Saddam thought he was
> building them, but he was being defrauded by his
> generals. Neither of these have been resolved in
> the last few years, and it's making US
> intelligence look like fools.

This is how I know that the so-called moderate Republicans are not serious about, and cannot be trusted with the defense of the United States, and that the so-called "grown-up Republicans" do not exist. When your chosen leader makes a mistake this big, and quite possibly brazenly lies, and you cannot bring yourself to admit that, you cannot and should not be taken seriously.


posted by: Cranky Observer on 05.09.05 at 10:22 PM [permalink]

Tom Holsinger writes: "It should be noted that Guantanamo is a total non-issue outside leftie circles."

Last time I checked, the Economist and Greg Djerejian were not considered part of "lefty circles" -- and I would hardly say that they regard Guantanamo as a "non-issue." In general, plenty of Conservatives have expressed outrage over the US' use of torture.

posted by: Mike G on 05.09.05 at 10:22 PM [permalink]

I'm a moderate Republican (much like the host), though I have a little more skeptical eye towards saving the world through invasion than the host has had. In your eyes, that may make me a Conservative, so I'll take a shot at this

1. Does the rise in anti-Americanism concern you? If so, do you link it to the Bush Administration’s policies?

It's a concern, and the fact that the Bushies don't seem to care about it is troubling. But it's pretty clear that anti-americanism was growing before Bush. Osama, after all, did hios plotting under the prior administration. Complaints about the US failure to ratify Kyoto, and French worries about the American hyperpower were also features of the 90s.

2. Do you really think we can make the UN further U.S. interests by criticizing and beating down the organization?

The UN has evolved into an organization accountable to nobody other than the flocks of diplomatic elites who people its ranks, run its bureaucracies, and comment about it in thick unread magazines. Since this group already has a institutional bias against the US and the way it does things, I'm not sure what the Bush administration does matters that much. About the only thing that might work is a fear of financing.

Basically, your question has a premise that many to the right of you -- the UN as a significant force -- just don't share.

3. Do you believe that in order to effectively promote goals like democratization and human rights around the world, the U.S. must itself be seen as an exemplar of these values?

I do, and have been dismayed at the lack of domestic outrage over Abu G and Guantanamo. I think this stuff does contribute to anti-americanism, and justifies those who already trend that direction.

4. What do you really think of the failure to find WMD in Iraq? Do you believe that the Administration was genuinely as surprised as the American people were? Does this make you question intelligence assessments on other matters like North Korea and Iran; why or why not?

The failure is a disaster that our foreign policy will have a hard time recovering from. But, yes, the administration was as surprised as the rest of us. These guys were convinced that Iraq had WMDs -- so much so that they were willing to believe the flimsiest of evidence.

5. Do you believe that an international criminal court would be likely to indict U.S. servicemembers for war crimes, notwithstanding the provision that when countries are capable of investigating and prosecuting crimes in their own court systems, an international court will not have jurisdiction?

Why wouldn't they? Why wouldn't a nation like the Sudan or Syria -- trying to get a little global condemnation off its head -- make such an accusation. And why wouldn't the Europeans, anxious to get the US out of the invasion business, go along with the idea? And as for the "courts capable" language, some lawyer will point to Abu Gharib, the torture memos, Guantanamo -- note the lack of higher up prosecutions and say, no, the United States does not have the capacity to try war crimes.

6. Do you believe that development aid is important in its own right, or do you see it more as something the U.S is compelled to do for image reasons, much of which winds up being wasteful? How important is the Millennium Challenge Account, in your view?

I'm not sure I have much of an opinion here. With development aid, the devil is in how the money is disbursed. Government to gvernment aid tends to be wasteful.

7. How important is intelligence reform?

Changing the boxes and reporting authority is not going to help unless there is a change in the attitudes that led to the intellignce failures. I'm not sure I am seeing the evidence of change.

8. How worried are you about China? What about in the long-term?

Somewhat worried, but more worried because their system may not prove sustainable, tan anything else. They might feel impelled towards drastic measures if they end up losing their export markets through foolish militarism.

9. How worried are you about the sagging dollar and yawning balance of payments deficit?

It's not the dollar, it's the ever increasing national debt and who owns its that's the problem. The dollar is only a symptom.

10. What to you is most problematic about the Bush Administration’s foreign policy? If there’s one thing you don’t like, what is it?

I think the policy is changing, and I like the tendency of the change, which is less confrontational, and concentrates more on what the US has to offer the world. Immediate post 9-11 policy had a component of "We'll invade you because we're scared of you." That paranoia, to the extent it lingers and influences policy, is perhaps the thing I dislike most.

posted by: Appalled Moderate on 05.09.05 at 10:22 PM [permalink]

Nicolson05, your comments about the problems of anti-Americanism are interesting but I think one-sided. One thing that I haven't seen discussed yet on this thread is the likely consequences of anti-Americanism not for America but for the rest of the world.

To date, most Americans view the rest of the world with benign indifference. But since 9/11, Americans have been hearing a lot about how the world hates us, how anti-Americanism is on the rise, how people around the world are fed up with the US. In the face of this kind of hostile rhetoric, it is becoming harder and harder for Americans to retain their attitude of benign indifference and general good will. If the rhetoric continues, I fear that many Americans will come to hate the rest of the world as much as the rest of the world apparently hates us.

Having the citizens of the most powerful nation that has ever existed hate you is probably not a good thing. I can only hope that those who indulge in anti-Americanism realize that American patience is not infinite.

posted by: DRB on 05.09.05 at 10:22 PM [permalink]

First, AG and Guantanamo should be considered more important in **conservative** circles. The legal precedents set will allow future enemies to get away with treating US prisoners in ways that would be far worst, perhaps, then what was done by the Japanese Imperial forces in WWII. And using prisoners of war as guinea pigs in bizarrare medical experiments, the Bataan death march. As Philip Carter states in intel-dump this was absolutely the worst mistake made by the current Bush administration.

It definitely belongs at number ONE.

1. Anti-American sentiment in Europe? The French have been doing this sort of thing since DeGaulle. It wasn't any better in the late sixties and seventies. In places like Indonesia, Australia, etc. now that is a concern.

2. I still think the UN can be a viable conduit for multilateral talks in disputes between nations. I believe the problem is location. Too many monied, connected 'ambassadors" who enjoy
the cushy digs in NYC. Put the UN headquarters over "centered hot spots". Surely, then, in places like Jerusalem, with missles passing, AK-47's barking, kidnappings, et al they would feel a sense of urgency.

3. Yes, the US should. However, not every nation views democracy or its underpinnings the way the US does.

But the blindness of superiority continues in spite of all and upholds the belief that vast regions everywhere on our planet should develop and mature to the level of present day Western systems which in theory are the best and in practice the most attractive. There is this belief that all those other worlds are only being temporarily prevented by wicked governments or by heavy crises or by their own barbarity or incomprehension from taking the way of Western pluralistic democracy and from adopting the Western way of life. Countries are judged on the merit of their progress in this direction. However, it is a conception which developed out of Western incomprehension of the essence of other worlds, out of the mistake of measuring them all with a Western yardstick. The real picture of our planet's development is quite different.

Alexandr Solzhenitsyn

And finally, I do not believe the goal in Iraq was to promulgate democracy in the Middle East. I believe it was to "finish G H W Bush's job" and as George Cave seems to infer, to put a populist, secular, advocate of non-violence at the head of the theocracy in Iran.

Again, from the Washington Post, March 1995 George Cave:
"The supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, has attempted to strengthen his position by assuming the mantle of the spiritual leader of all Shi'i. This position has been in dispute since the death of Grand Ayatollah Khoei. The Iraqi Shi'i accept Ayatollah Sistani as the rightful heir to Khoei's mantle. Much to the chagrin of Ayatollah Khamenei, Sheikh Muhammad Husayn Fadlallah, the spiritual leader of Lebanon's Shi'i majority, has thrown his support to Ayatollah Sistani."

I think it makes sense to attempt this rather than foisting a pro-western, pro-Israel non-secular democratic government on the Iraqis and Iranians. Very shrewd thinking on the part of the CIA.

Abu Gharib and Guantanamo effect everything!!! And that is why the Judicial branch of the government has recently become so strident about this! They understand the risks!

4. Its not about finding WMD in Iraq, its about setting up Ayatollah Al-Sistani to become the religious head of Sh'i' worldwide. It seems like he would be against nuclear proliferation and secular violence in general. He could have a dramatic effect on the entire Middle East but especially on Iran.

Not a bad concept on the part of the CIA. However using the US military as the means is purely Neo-conian. From their perspective it represents a way to immediately stem the tide of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East while defending Israel from attack.

5. Given AG and Guantanamo. Yes, many countries in Europe, Serbia for example, would love to turn those tables on the US. Eventually the Europeans will demand it, and may use economic measures against us to enforce it. An isolationish US could be catastrophic for the world as history repeatedly shows.

6. AID was invented by the "braniacs" of the Kennedy administration, DEMOCRATS and liberals. Its purpose, to aid the state department and the CIA in preventing nuclear proliferation among developing nations. But you knew that Susaane? The neocons essentially believe that this approach has run its course and it has reached the point where in some cases only drastic measures will do. Obviously, the brillance of the first technique cannot be denied. Use of military force to enforce non-proliferation is riskier and far more costly. Is it neccessary?

7. Centralizing intelligence under a "czar" and creating additional bureacratic layers is the wrong way to resolve this very serioius problem of interagency sharing of classified information. Wrong approach, fraught with peril. But reform is still desperately needed.

8. China, India, and Pakistan. Hmmm... I find it hard to understand why we need a national ID, all sorts of background checks, polygrips, and finger printing to work as a software developer while we are outsourcing national security critical source code to these countries. Yes, unfortunately at this point, Windoze source code might be considered critical to National Security. Too many elected officials on both sides of the aisle seem to prefer profit to National Security. Perhaps that is why I tend not to trust them.

9. Yes, the French are attempting to convince the oil producing nations to accept the Euro. A strong dollar, and economy are as important in the "war on terror" as any weapons system.

10. AG and Guantanamo. The biggest mistakes of all.

posted by: manoppello on 05.09.05 at 10:22 PM [permalink]


Since there was so much writing, I sacrificed a few subjunctive statements. Because I was talking about theories, I assumed that I didn't have to weave in all the caveats. Here's a clarification:

"...infuriatingly enough, it very well could be a PR problem, not an intelligence problem. There are several good theories for why the US didn't find weapons in Iraq, the two most prominent are: they got sold/shipped to Syria, or Saddam thought he was building them, but he was being defrauded by his generals. Neither of these have been resolved in the last few years, and it's making US intelligence look like fools. (They may be fools, but until more is known, I am inclined to believe that the CIA was not as wildly wrong as the public thinks it was. This is because, before the invasion, quite a few other intelligence agencies seemed to be corroborating their work.) What happens in a year when the US says "Syria received the WMDs from Saddam, and now they're about to use them. We have to invade Syria to take away the WMDs."? etc..."

I don't know whether that changes your view of whatever particular branch of Republicanism you believe I represent. It's not straight ahead excusing Bush or the CIA for mistakes, lies, what have you. If the intelligence was wrong, someone should be responsible; I'm happy to throw Bush under the bus if he's the cause. I have yet to see evidence that the intelligence was wrong.

posted by: john jay on 05.09.05 at 10:22 PM [permalink]

DRB -- completely agree one of the dangers of rising anti-Americanism is the possibility of rising anti-internationalism (or something like that) from an American public justified in being pissed about US flag burnings in Kerblickistan, especially justified when the sewer system under that street was paid for by US tax dollars.

When a young guy passionately protests US "imperialism" and tells the local TV reporter how much he hates US policy, he doesn't usually mention his pending visa application for a vacation to Disney World or an H-1B job in Ohio. Where our diplomacy should be better is highlighting not the rising anti-Americanism but the still strong pull of American ideals and even America itself. And at home, our own media could balance flag-burnings with visa lines to capture the seeming contradiction.

posted by: Nicolson05 on 05.09.05 at 10:22 PM [permalink]

manoppello said:

"First, AG and Guantanamo should be considered more important in **conservative** circles. The legal precedents set will allow future enemies to get away with treating US prisoners in ways that would be far worst, perhaps, then what was done by the Japanese Imperial forces in WWII."

You're new here. I can tell. By "new", I mean you clearly haven't resided on this planet for the past 55 years. I'm sure our POW's in Korea, Vietnam, and Desert Storm would be happy to demonstrate the ways in which you err, by doing to you what was done to them.

The Geneva Convention has done diddly squat to protect our POW's since 1945. That our government has pretended it did means nothing. The U.S. government pretends many things. Some people believe the U.S. government and some pretend to believe it.

But note how all Democratic party talk of postwar aid to North Vietnam ceased when our returned POW's explained how they were tortured.

The only restraint shown by our postwar enemies towards our POW's has been fear of American retaliation. THAT is what protects our POW's. Not the Geneva Convention.

posted by: Tom Holsinger on 05.09.05 at 10:22 PM [permalink]

You overlook the definitional games being played, and assume too much good faith.

Consider how the intelligence community's preinvasion reports on Iraqi WMD "programs" were misrepresented by our domestic and foreign enemies after the invasion into reports about Iraqi WMD "stocks".

Many things constitute a WMD research and development program. Stocks of production quanity WMD are much more limited by definition.

The game played here is commonly called "moving the goal posts". Debating liars is a waste of time, and we face liars on this one.

The invincible ignorance of newsies concerning just about every subject is one thing. Mendaciousness is quite another.

Susan's repeated use of loaded questions, which might be unintentional (why I say she should get out more), well depicts what we are up against. It is necessary to deconstruct every phrase and challenge every definition, which makes real discussion too difficult.

At the moment, it's a toss-up between, "The only thing you need to know about Nazis is how to lick 'em" and this from Glenn Reynolds yesterday:

"... On the other hand, perhaps there's a certain lack of social skills involved:

Jones, who grew up in Tennessee, told the crowd that he'd felt out of place as a kid -- like many of them probably did -- and moved away. But over the years spent in more liberal places like the Bay Area, he somehow forgot how to talk to folks from his old hometown. He said that when he goes back to Tennessee for Thanksgiving and launches into a 10-minute monologue about politics, he's met by embarrassed silences from his relatives, the very kindest response being: "Well, that was a mouthful."

Most people don't really want to hear 10-minute monologues about anything at Thanksgiving dinner, and I doubt that making the monologue about politics makes it more appealing. This isn't how most people act, which -- to be fair -- is precisely his point."

posted by: John Jay on 05.09.05 at 10:22 PM [permalink]

Tom Holsinger said:

"The only restraint shown by our postwar enemies towards our POW's has been fear of American retaliation. THAT is what protects our POW's. Not the Geneva Convention."

I guess maybe I've been here longer than you have? The threat of retaliation does little to criminal tyrannical oligarchies and dictators who gleefully escape (with loads of cash) to willing countries. Gee, as I recall there were many Germans who escaped to Brazil and Argentina. And of course Sadaam's thugs found a warm welcome in Syria.

On the other hand, international law would allow entities such as InterPol to enter said countries and make arrests, leading to war crimes trials. Yes, in the end the damn lawyers usually rule. Its like that here too or or are you too "new" to have noticed?

I, for one, would like to make damn sure we are on the right side when criminal war crimes accusations are bandied about. Besides, it always works better for US when we are intrinsically, and ontologically on the right side.

As for Vietnam and North Korea. Its not as if we were innocent there. I am fairly certain that some harsh techniques were used in both places by CIA operatives to obtain information.

In any case, to make a "new" person understand, its going to get a lot worse if it becomes public knowledge that the US completely ignores the Geneva Convention. Even worse when legal precedents are set. Ask McClain what he thinks about it or any POW. Ask them what they think it might be like on some future theatre of war if the US were known for war crimes and blatant Geneve Convention violations? GO AHEAD AND ASK!

posted by: manoppello on 05.09.05 at 10:22 PM [permalink]

Is there another John Jay posting on this discussion, or did Tom Holsinger accidentally type my nickname at the top of his post when responding?

If there's another john jay, I'm happy to switch to "j.j.(formerly john jay)"

I suspect it's Tom and a typo, so...
Tom, if you're giving me advice, you very well could be right. I don't come here often enough to be familiar with everyone; I'll find out soon enough. When talking about Iraq WMD, I equate "programs" that have actual purchased and locatable infrastructure with "stocks" made from such programs. A little sloppy, but I haven't spoken with anyone who makes a distinction between the two, yet. That's probably just luck on my part.

posted by: john jay (lowercase) on 05.09.05 at 10:22 PM [permalink]

john jay,

Yes, I was referring to your most prior post above mine.

A WMD "program" consists of at least the research & development side (always), generally includes some manufacturing capability and stocks, if only pilot plants and test run stocks, and sometimes includes full-bore production facilities and stockpiles of finished whatever. The absence of production facilties and stocks does not establish the absence of a WMD program.

In Iraq's case we already knew they had finished their R&D programs for chemical weapons, because they had used chemical weapons on their own civilians as well as the Iranian armed forces years before Desert Storm. The major issue as to chemical weapons 2001-2003 was whether Iraq had developed a means of rapidly restoring full-scale production capability upon the termination of formal UN sanctions. They clearly had the capability of producing the stuff in at least small runs if they wanted to. Whether they had done so or not was naturally of great interest to the invading allied forces, but as a practical matter it was obvious to anyone who had studied the subject that Iraq's armed forces by then lacked the capability for delivering militarily significant quantities of chemical weapons.

I'm not aware of any responsible, let alone knowledgeable, who felt Iraq had even a moderate nuclear weapons R&D program going during the period 2001-2003. It was just too expensive.

Developing a new anthrax weaponization process requires a significant industrial-scale R&D effort. Once the knowledge is acquired, however, that effort can be disbanded and, depending on the weaponization process, significant amounts of the stuff can be produced by much smaller and less well trained groups. This is known from the Soviet anthrax program - they made a particular point of finding a simple to use manufacturing process with a long shelf life for the finished product given little effort. But the price of that was that their weaponized anthrax was much less effective per unit of mass & volume.

The anthrax powder used on us was very, very lethal and more indicative of pilot production of a possibly experimental process than mass production of a fully developed process. Tradeoffs of immediate lethality for greater storage life which could have been made were not made.

Getting back to the subject of intelligence failure, it is quite possible that, if Saddam Hussein's regime had a program for unhurried onset of production of previously researched chemical and biological weapons, the evidence of this could have been moved to a friendly neighboring country to conceal it from a possible U.S. invasion. The Soviets (and their Warsaw Pact satellite state intelligence organizations) had taught all the Soviet's client states outside Europe how to do this.

There is some evidence that this actually occurred in the three months before we invaded Iraq. There is a confluence of means, motive and opportunity.

It does appear in hindsight that Iraq did not have significant stocks of finished chemical weapons in the few years before our invasion. This does not mean that Iraq lacked the breakout program for restoration of production. It is necessary to look precisely at what the intelligence reports did say to determine how much wiggle room they gave themselves on this.

But not according to Democrats, lefties and other America-haters. To them the absence of any evidence of finished stocks of chemical weapons, or a nuclear weapons R&D program, means Iraq had no WMD programs at all (especially biological). Because that is, in hindsight, how they define all WMD programs. Doing so fosters their political objectives.

posted by: Tom Holsinger on 05.09.05 at 10:22 PM [permalink]

"But not according to Democrats, lefties and other America-haters. To them the absence of any evidence of finished stocks of chemical weapons, or a nuclear weapons R&D program, means Iraq had no WMD programs at all (especially biological). Because that is, in hindsight, how they define all WMD programs. Doing so fosters their political objectives."

Sigh, first Sadaam did not have any WMD by any definition. None. Even the Israelis admit that. The UN, our weapons inspectors, the NSA, the CIA all tend to agree on this. A CIA report claimed that the chemical attacks on the Kurds were actually staged by Iran. And Iran does indeed have WMD by any definition of the word. The have the will, the funding, and the scientific expertise courtesy of US and our European allies.

What does Iraq have to do with Iran? Plenty. See the following article to find out why. But not what you probably think.

Does it make sense to go through a butchering tyrant like Sadaam to get to Iran and to other Islamic extremists in the Middle East including Baathist Syria. ? You betcha.

Was the invasion of Iraq necessary to accomplish the task? That is the question. Also does it make sense allowing clumsy oafs like Michael Ledeen and John Bolton to lead the charge? I don't think so.

posted by: manoppello on 05.09.05 at 10:22 PM [permalink]

Mr. Holsinger,

Philip Carter, a veteran who runs the milblog could not have described the critical nature of how the abuses at Abu Gharib hurt this country better:

"Commentary: Mr. Botero's paintings of Abu Ghraib depict the very worst of America. Mr. Yon's photograph from Mosul shows the very best of America. In Iraq and the world today, I fear that too many people see too much of the worst of America, and not enough of the best that we have to offer, such as Maj. Bieger's valor and compassion. Part of this is bad public relations; our country needs to do a better job of telling its story to the world. But most of this problem is the story itself. You can't just tell the world you're the good guys, you must demonstrate it with deeds again and again. We have seen the better angels of America on display in Iraq, Indonesia, Afghanistan, and elsewhere since Sept. 11; but the darker angels have also shown their faces. Unfortunately in this day and age, there is little room for balance or objective comparison. Those who might be predisposed to hate or oppose America will focus only on the negative, despite the existence of the positive. We must continue to do what we can to remove the stain of dark moments such as Abu Ghraib, and to follow the example set by men like Maj. Bieger.

As Mr. Botero himself says, the world expects a great deal from America. We must meet that high standard."

posted by: manoppello on 05.09.05 at 10:22 PM [permalink]


5. In my view, your question misstates the "Inadmissibility" provisions of Article 17 of the governing Rome Statute. The ICC is empowered to take jurisdiction not only where a signatory state is "incapable" of prosecuting the person at issue, but also where the state is "unwilling" to do so. Moreover, for the ICC to decline jurisdiction, the signatory state must have actively investigated the person accused. I think there is a legitimate basis for concern that overtly political criminal allegations will be brought against US national leaders, diplomats, and military personnel and that pressure will be brought on the ICC to assert jurisdiction, on the basis that the US has not been properly willing or sufficiently thorough in chasing down every allegation. This should not just be a conservative concern; for instance, Noam Chomsky famously denounced Bill Clinton as a criminal for ordering the bombing of the pharmaceutical plant in Sudan, saying that his action "probably led to tens of thousands of deaths." How much would the U.S. have to investigate a contention like that in order to convince the ICC not to accept jurisdiction?

Also, the ICC does not provide for a right to trial by jury, so it is arguably unconstitutional for the US to cooperate in compelling its citizens to submit to trial there. I don't see how this Sixth Amendment right can be abrogated by treaty.

posted by: Tom T. on 05.09.05 at 10:22 PM [permalink]

I've been shaking my head in disbelief at the number of people accusing Suzanne of asking "loaded questions" with built-in "strawman arguments." Am I the only one who gets it? She's asking questions from a DELIBERATELY liberal point of view in order to give conservatives insight into where their progressive counterparts on the left are coming from. You should be reading each question as: "Progressives believe XYZ. Do you agree? Why or why not?"

The questions are designed to highlight the progressive argument, thus making it easier for conservatives to respond directly to those points progressives feel are most relevent to the issue. To accuse Suzanne of unknowingly exposing her progressive bias is laughable. It's intentional and it's yielded an interesting thread.

posted by: Eric on 05.09.05 at 10:22 PM [permalink]

First, AG and Guantanamo should be considered more important in **conservative** circles. The legal precedents set will allow future enemies to get away with treating US prisoners in ways that would be far worst, perhaps, then what was done by the Japanese Imperial forces in WWII. And using prisoners of war as guinea pigs in bizarrare medical experiments, the Bataan death march. As Philip Carter states in intel-dump this was absolutely the worst mistake made by the current Bush administration.

I'm afraid this is nonsense.

The relevant treaties in this case are the Geneva Conventions, which spell out both how prisoners of war are to be treated, as well as what soldiers have to do to qualify as a prisoner of war.

The problem is that the people at Guantanamo do not qualify as prisoners of war. Niether did most of the insurgents imprisoned at Abu Ghraib. This is inherent in being a terrorist, insurgent, or geurilla combatant, instead of a uniformed member of the armed forces of a nation party to the GC.

So the only applicable laws or regulations are the UCMJ and US criminal code. Torture is illegal, but my impression (I have not studied the UCMJ and GCs extensively) is that US law is less restrictive than the GCs are.

The catch-22 is that we cannot make treaties with other governments that regulate the treatment of such people, because no nation wants to be responsible for the actions of such people. That is the entire point of state sponsorship of terrorists- deniability. Furthermore, other parties not subject to US law or party to a treaty with the US regarding treatment of prisoners will be unconstrained anyway, and are likely to do whatever they wish, up to and including engaging in torture, beheading, medical experiments, etc.

So how do we resolve this? Obviously, signing treaties with every terrorist outfit on the planet is not an option...

posted by: rosignol on 05.09.05 at 10:22 PM [permalink]

The questions are designed to highlight the progressive argument, thus making it easier for conservatives to respond directly to those points progressives feel are most relevent to the issue.

Ah, no. If she wanted to highlight the progressive argument, she'd be stating the progressive premises outright and asking us why we don't agree with them. Asking questions with this premises built-in but not stated is the 'load' in question.

Don't assume anyone is aware of their own premises- remarkably few of the lefties I've debated with have ever seriously considered the matter, they seem to just absorb premises from people around them without conciously thinking about it.

Of course, that goes for people on the right, too. ;-)

posted by: rosignol on 05.09.05 at 10:22 PM [permalink]

Manopollo says:

"Sigh, first Sadaam did not have any WMD by any definition. None."

US reveals Iraq nuclear operation

The US has revealed that it removed more than 1.7 metric tons of radioactive material from Iraq in a secret operation last month.
"This operation was a major achievement," said US Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham in a statement.

He said it would keep "potentially dangerous nuclear materials out of the hands of terrorists".

Along with 1.77 tons of enriched uranium, about 1,000 "highly radioactive sources" were also removed.

The material was taken from a former nuclear research facility on 23 June, after being packaged by 20 experts from the US Energy Department's secret laboratories.

posted by: SB on 05.09.05 at 10:22 PM [permalink]

manopello: A CIA report claimed that the chemical attacks on the Kurds were actually staged by Iran.

This would the same CIA getting slagged left, right, and center for intelligence failures? That CIA?

Sadaam did not have any WMD by any definition. None.

Let's pretend -- implausibility aside -- this is true. It still doesn't matter. It was never our burden to prove he had WMDs. It was his to prove he didn't ... which makes him into an even bigger idiot for failing to do so.

posted by: Achillea on 05.09.05 at 10:22 PM [permalink]

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posted by: VoIP on 05.09.05 at 10:22 PM [permalink]

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